Our parish has a newly ordained priest as the parochial vicar, and it has been a delight to watch him work his way through the Mass, carefully finding his spot in the lectionary and looking wide eyed as he forgets the final words of the send off.
Because he is less familiar with the eucharistic prayers than our seasoned senior pastor, he takes particular care to say the words properly.
As he spoke the words of consecration, “This is my body” I was listening more intently than usual, and it struck me how much I wanted to consume the host. I wanted Jesus to be part of me as he promised he would be.
Humans are natural consumers. As babies it’s all about eating. It’s the baby’s survival instinct to make it known that he is in need of nourishment.
The Feed Goes On…
This desire continues on, and we chuckle as kids gobble Halloween candy and Christmas cookies. Put a pizza in front of a teenager and before you can turn around, it vanishes. As adults we still consume. You can name your own food or drink obsession. As I knelt in Mass a prayer formed in my mind, “Let our desire to consume lead us to consume the body and blood of Christ.”
Ultimately, the desire for Christ is the root of why we desire anything. The Christ-sized hole in our hearts won’t be satisfied by anything else but him, although we spend much time and energy consuming other things to see if they fill the hole.
In ancient times, people were more tuned in to the idea that to get something worthwhile, a considerable amount of time, energy, and sacrifice went into it.
In order to have a roasted goat for dinner, it took years of raising a herd of goats first.
To have bread meant planting, harvesting, grinding, and baking.
Is It Bad to Be a Consumer…Or Was It Intended?
For us it’s as easy as a drive to the store to come home with sacks of food. It’s very easy to consume, but rarely do we stop and consider why we want to eat. What is the natural desire in us that points us to a supernatural desire?
Could it be that our natural desire to consume is the training ground for spiritual consumption?
Taking our innate desire to consume food, which God has built into us, and placing that desire into the realm of the supernatural, we can understand why we should want to come back again and again to eat the body and blood of Jesus.
It’s a continual desire and a continual feeding.
We can use our natural desire for food to help us focus on our need to desire spiritual food. Next time you are hungry, ask yourself, do I need this as much as I need Jesus?
Channel Your Hunger
Jesus also spoke to this issue while he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness to turn stones into bread because he was so hungry. Jesus’ reply is a familiar phrase to us:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
We in turn can say, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but upon the true bread that came down from heaven, Jesus Christ.”
I’m not trying to come up with a new diet scheme, I’m just advocating that we take a cue from our natural desire to eat and pass it over to our supernatural side as we desire to partake in Jesus Christ.
Let’s be ravenous to receive him.
Let’s be filled with anticipation as we walk toward the altar at Mass.
Let’s savor his goodness in our lives.
Let us kneel with thankful and satisfied heart and go out into the world to share with others how they too can come to this table to be fed.
This article was originally published on The Great Adventure Blog on September 24, 2014.
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The Catholic Eucharist in the Bible
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About Emily Cavins
Emily received her bachelor of arts degree in classical and Near Eastern archaeology from the University of Minnesota, and is a tour leader of annual pilgrimages to Israel and other Bible-related destinations. She is the developer of the Great Adventure Kids Bible study resources, and co-author of The Great Adventure Storybook. She co-authored the Walking Toward Eternity Bible Study Series, Part One (Daring to Walk the Walk)and Two (Engaging the Struggles of Your Heart) with her husband, Jeff. She is also the author of Lily of the Mohawks: The Story of St. Kateri, and Catholic Family Night, a series of lessons covering all three liturgical reading cycles with one lesson per week throughout the entire year. Emily lives in Minnesota with Jeff, her husband of over thirty years.
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